Health Alert: HIV still prevalent-Over 23,000 infected in W/R

The Western Regional Office of the Ghana AIDS Commission, has advised the public to be on high alert on HIV/AIDS infections which continues to be a source of worry in the region.

“Currently, thereare 23,904 per­sons living with HIV in the region. Again, 1,101 people newly got infected with HIV in 2022 alone, a situation which is worrying to the Commission and partners,” the Regional Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission for the Western Region, MrDramaniYakubu, has revealed.

He disclosed that “The current HIV Prevalence in the region was 1.63 percent. This means that, out of every 100 people in the Western Region, about two of them were living with HIV. This data clearly tells us that HIV is still here with us and we should not take risks such as unprotected sexual relationships with multiple partners.”

MrYakubu disclosed these to The Spectator in an interview on the update of HIV and Aids campaigns involving stakeholders and also to mark the 2023 World AIDS Day (WAD), which falls on December 1, every year in Ghana and across the world.

Themed “Let Communities Lead”, this year’s event provides the op­portunity for stakeholders to unite in response to the HIV & AIDS epi­demic, to assess efforts in respond­ing to the epidemic and to remem­ber those who have unfortunately died from AIDS-related causes.

MrYakubu said it was importantfor the public to test to know their HIV status and that of their partner(s), and noted that, having sex at an early age exposes one to HIV, Sex­ually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and early pregnancies.

He said practicing abstinence or being faithful to an uninfected part­ner were key behaviours to effec­tively prevent HIV infections.

He said “Having sex with multiple partners increases the risk of HIV and other STI infections. If your HIV test is positive, you ought to visit a health facility to start treatment immediately. Taking HIV medication consistently reduces the amount of virus in your body, promotes good health and prolongs life.”

The Technical Coordinator told The Spectator that Antiretroviral (ARVs) were free in all health facili­ties, noting that, HIV related stigma creates barriers to HIV testing, treatment, care and support.

“HIV is a virus and anyone can get infected. The theme is a call for action for communities to play a more active role in the HIV respon­se,”MrYakubu said.

He said as part of Ghana’s efforts to integrate HIV and AIDS program­ming into everyday activities in communities, the regional office, under the guidance of the Regional Minister, MrKwabenaOkyereDar­ko-Mensah, marked the 2023 Farm­ers’ Day alongside the World AIDS Day on Friday, November 24, across all the district assemblies.

This was to pave way for the region to host the national event at Tarkwa, yesterday.

Ghana AIDS Commission, he said, has undertaken a number of activi­ties in collaboration with partners, with logistics such as condoms, HIV test kits, fliers and leaflets distributed, especially to the HIV Focal Persons at the Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The Commission had also en­gaged in a month-long HIV sensitisa­tion through local media partners to sensitise the population on HIV and AIDS and to discuss other topical issues and also together with part­ners, offered free health screening at the Farmers’ Day durbars on November 24.

 From Clement Adzei Boye, Sekondi

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